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Parliamentary Boundary Commission for Wales: Appointments

Lord Williams of Elvel asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): I am very pleased to announce that my honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Mr. George Howarth) has appointed Professor Kenneth George to serve as a commissioner to fill one post and that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Wales has appointed Mrs. Susan Smith as a commissioner to fill the other. Both appointments are effective until 31 December 2001.

Life Sentence Prisoners: Projected Figures

Lord Ackner asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Williams of Mostyn: No projections of the prison population are available beyond the year 2005, but it is expected that by then the number of life sentence prisoners will be 5,800. Separate projections are not available for murderers or discretionary life sentence prisoners, but it is estimated that there will be 900 prisoners serving an automatic life sentence for a second serious violent or sexual offence under Section 2 of the Crime (Sentences) Act 1997. Not all of these 900 prisoners represent additional prison places, since around half would have been prisoners under previous legislation serving either life or determinate sentences.

The projection is consistent with the central projection published on 29 January 1998 in the Home Office Statistical Bulletin 2/98, Revised Projections of Long Term Trends in the Prison Population to 2005.

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The central projection carries forward long term trends in the prison population. This gives an annual average prison population of 82,800 in 2005. The bulletin also gives projections for alternative scenarios giving prison populations of between 64,400 and 92,600 in 2005. A copy of the bulletin is available in the Library.

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

The Earl of Sandwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the remaining reservations on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in relation to asylum and immigration legislation; and when these reservations will be lifted.[HL1523]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The United Kingdom ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child on 16 December 1991, subject to the reservation that the United Kingdom reserves the right to apply such legislation, in so far as it relates to the entry into, stay in and departure from the United Kingdom of those who do not have the right under the law of the United Kingdom to enter or remain in the United Kingdom, and to the acquisition and possession of citizenship, as it may be deemed necessary from time to time.

We take the view that the United Kingdom's immigration and nationality law is entirely consistent with the thrust of the convention, but we believe it is necessary to make it clear that nothing in the convention is to be interpreted as overriding the provisions of our immigration and nationality legislation.

ACPO: Administration and Licensing of Firearms Sub-Committee

The Earl of Haddington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer of the Lord Williams of Mostyn on 2 March (WA 132), whether they will give the first date on which each current member of the Association of Chief Police Officers' Administration of Firearms and Explosives Licensing Sub-Committee first attended a meeting in the Home Office as a member of that Committee.[HL1518]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: There have been no meetings held at the Home Office of the Association of Chief Police Officers' Sub-Committee on the Administration and Licensing of Firearms. It is common for the Home Office to seek advice or views on firearms matters from members of the sub-committee, as from many other sources, whether at meetings or by other means. The first occasions when particular members of the sub-committee had contact with the Home Office are not recorded. In the last 12 months, members of the sub-committee have participated in three Home Office working groups: the reference panel on historic firearms; the firearms forms working group; and the approved club criteria working group.

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The Belfast Agreement: Statement

Lord Cope of Berkeley asked the Leader of the House:

    Why the statement made in the House of Commons by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on 20 April on "Northern Ireland (Belfast Agreement)" was entitled "The Irish Settlement" when repeated in the House of Lords.[HL1565]

The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Richard): The statement to which the noble Lord refers did not itself bear a title. In repeating the statement on 20 April, my noble friend Lord Dubs referred to "The Belfast Agreement" and made clear, in answer to a subsequent question, that it was "not yet a settlement" (H.L. Deb., col. 943). Procedures have been changed to ensure that, in future, there is no discrepancy between the short title used with regard to statements in each of the two Houses of Parliament.

Income Tax Self Assessment

Lord Shore of Stepney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their assessment of the effect of introducing self assessment of income taxes in the financial years 1997-98 and 1998-99; and what is their estimate of the one-for-all increase in tax receipts for these two years.[HL1437]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The introduction of self assessment will have the ongoing effect of making the tax system clearer and more straightforward for taxpayers, clarifying their obligations and helping them to get their tax right first time. The costs of SA to the Inland Revenue in the two years were £100 million in 1997-98 (with savings of £5 million) and are expected to be £63 million in 1998-99 (with savings of £33 million). Once the new system is fully bedded in, SA is expected to reduce the costs of running the tax system by £70 million per annum.

Legislation: Explanatory Notes

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they intend to introduce the new system of publishing explanatory notes together with Acts of Parliament.[HL1426]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: It is hoped that draft Bills published this Session and Bills introduced next Session will be accompanied by the new style explanatory notes.

Stability and Growth Pact

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Question by the Lord Pearson of Rannoch on 12 March (H.L. Deb., col. 345), whether

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    the United Kingdom could have stayed out of the European "stability pact" had it wanted to do so; and, if so, how.[HL1513]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Stability and Growth Pact is designed to ensure sound public finances in EMU. The United Kingdom's interest lies in a successful EMU. Low government borrowing is essential for economic stability and the success of EMU.

The Stability and Growth Pact, agreed in principle at the Dublin European Council in December 1996, and adopted at the Amsterdam Council in June 1997 comprises a voluntary, non-binding resolution recording the political commitments of member states and two procedural regulations for implementing Articles 103 and 104(c) of the Treaty. The first of these was subject to the qualified majority voting procedure; the second required unanimity. Both applied to all member states.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are their estimates of the transfers which may become necessary over the next five years between the 11 member states of the European Union which plan to form an economic and monetary union in accordance with the Treaty of Rome.[HL1515]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: In EMU, fiscal policy will remain the responsibility of member states, subject to the constraint of the Stability and Growth Pact. There will be scope within the Stability Pact for member states' fiscal policy to react to changing circumstances, so increased transfers will not be necessary. In addition, Article 104b, the 'no bail-out clause', makes clear that a member state cannot be liable for another member state's commitments.

Greater London and East and West Midlands Areas: Population and Representation

Lord Ewing of Kirkford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the total combined population of the East and West Midlands; and how many parliamentary constituencies and local councillors there are in that area; and[HL1492]

    What is the total population of the Greater London area; and how many parliamentary constituencies and local councillors there are in that area.[HL1493]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the Chief Executive of the Office for National Statistics, who has been asked to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter to Lord Ewing of Kirkford from the Director of the Office for National Statistics, Dr. T. Holt, dated 22 April 1998.

As Director of the Office for National Statistics (ONS), I have been asked to reply to your parliamentary Questions asking what is the total population of the Greater London area and of the East and West Midlands

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area; and how many parliamentary constituencies and local councillors there are in these areas.

The data you requested are as follows:

East and West MidlandsGreater London
Population as at 1996 Mid-Year Estimate in thousands9,458.17,074.3
Parliamentary Constituencies*10874
Councillors**3,9181,913

* Home Office figures

** Figures provided by Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions for East and West Midlands and by the Local Government Association for the Greater London area.


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